I still have not figured out this equipment obsession thing.I guess it's like the guys who buy $200,000 historic restored cars and don't drive them.Some cases may be the "mine is bigger than yours" syndrome.I listen to my system,that's what I bought it for.Hey,everyone is free to do what they want with their hard earned,or otherwise obtained,money.
I have not upgraded gear in years. I honestly believe that the room and almost only your room done well will yeild the best performance bang for the buck.
I think that Mark Twain's famous popularization of an earlier saying says it best:
"Moderation in all things, including moderation!"
I'm with Schipo, music enjoyment is my first and only priority. Room and tweaks come second, and the rig is a laggard at third place. Life is too short and important to be wasted on someone's subjective worries.
Only if I am sure something can be improved to meet my expectations.
There is something to be said for being a perfectionist....but that too should be in moderation as Almarg points out.
There's more to life than audio or any hobby or area of enjoyment for that matter. But I do think when somebody cares about something, they should strive to do it well, whatever it is.
Nothing wrong with being curious about what works, what doesn't and why. That's the basis of progress in any area.
Just take a chill pill if needed and enjoy! Life is too short to do otherwise!
What's your current system? Maybe there is a way to get across the finish line sooner rather than later?
Well... you can spend your life pursuing adventure - and end up dead or crippled up later in life(i.e. extreme skiers, mountain climbers, etc.)
Or, you can spend your life toiling for the green, and end up with a dead marriage, broken home, alienated kids or no kids at all, etc.
Or, you can spend your life playing sports, and end up in great shape when you die.
Or, you can be a bookworm or TV-aholic, and have no social life, missing out on great relationships that aren't virtual.
or, you can be an audiophile who balances time spent in social/religious causes, family, work and listening. ;)
One has to determine if they are an audiophile or a system builder, or both. The system builder loves the gear as much as the music. I do, and I make absolutely no apologies for it, and neither should anyone else who loves the gear. I have a fascination with how systems sound, and I'm driven to put different systems together to hear the results. I have been this way since a teen. It's no more improper to do so than for the person who blows tons of money on media who never watches it or plays it. To me, it is every bit as rich an experience to hear beloved music in different ways (systems) than having to get new music just to stay interested in the hobby. People with thousands of CDs and Albums have blown a LOT of money, and their time collecting all that music is just as questionably spent. Especially with the radical improvements in streaming audio and HiFi!
My wife, when she chats with others about the involvement I have in audio, says, "At least he's not on the street..." She's only half-joking. She knows how many pitfalls there are for people in life. Being a homebody with a stereo certainly is not the worst of it. :)
It seems to me that most humans have some form of excess or imbalance in life. I don't know that I've ever meet anyone who was perfectly balanced, who had no area in life which was not excessive. We seem to fall prey to mania quite easily. It may be a function of passion or love, motivations to immerse ourselves in things we enjoy.
Schipo! I agree that the room brings a big bang for the buck; I added value to my home by building it while vastly improving the experience! But that hardly precludes huge improvements by system building. Your attitude is like saying the kitchen is the most important part of cooking, while giving marginal consideration to the ingredients! :)
This is a good question for me personally to reflect on. I have just spent a huge (for me) sum of money on new stereo stuff. I just retired and got some money. i decided to blow it all on stereo stuff. I have. The stuff is pretty good. i WAS in 'evaluation mode' for awhile, and actually returned the new DAC (it just was not better than my old one)
So I was listening and nit-picking sort of stuff and NOT listening to the music much for a month or so. Finally I have settled down and forget the picky stuff and LISTEN to the music.
I know it is harder for some folks to turn off the judgement and just enjoy.. that is no fun... actually like they are stuck in hell.
As for wondering if I could have done something better with the money..nope. I'm 60 years old and have enjoyed reproduced music for 45 years on some stereo or other. And it was a good choice for me.
(I am no bleeding heart for any humanitarian cause.. I have done MY part for the environment and the earth's future by not procreating... one of me was way more than enough for this planet.. just think thousands of new little Elizabeths roaming this Earth.. a nightmare!.)
I have found that two different drives are at the heart of audiophile behavior. One of these drives is constructive, the other destructive:
-The constructive drive consists of the love of music, of beauty, and of the imagination. This is audiophilia.
-The destructive drive consists of problem oriented thinking, obsessive compulsive behavior, and perfectionism. This is audionervosa.
I believe that audionervosa is a form of addiction. I, for one, feel like an addict a good fraction of the time. I don't mean this as a metaphor. I mean it literally. Here are some signs of addiction, according to the Mayo clinic:
1. Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly this can be daily or even several times a day.
2. Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug.
3. Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug.
4. Spending money on the drug even though you can't afford it.
5. Doing things to obtain the drug that you normally wouldn't do.
6. Feeling that you need the drug to deal with your problems.
7. Focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug.
It seems to me that this describes many days of audiophiles' lives, spent learning about and looking for audio equipment. They are our "Lost Weekends." The drug isn't alcohol, but the addictive process is the same.
So, I consider myself "in recovery." I try to limit the amount of time I spend on Audiogon, reading about near gear, going to audio shows, etc.. I expect there to be periods of relapse, and that this is a lifelong disease that I will have to manage, like diabetes.
The OP put the issue in terms of a person's "priorities." I think that's true enough, but it doesn't focus attention on the fact that audionervosa is a PROCESS, namely, the process of addiction.
So is it possible to be an audiophile without becoming an addict? I think for some people, it probably is. Not for me. I have to be vigilant for signs of addictive behavior, so that I do not neglect my job, my wife, my dog, or myself.
And when I do manage to resist the temptations of audio addiction, I discover that I am much more likely to really experience my love of music, of beauty, and of the imagination. And that's what it's all about.
Yes, when it is gone you will miss it. I think the biggest upgrade is the room it self. When all is said and done, it is the key factor in your listening experience. Twenty years ago I built my 'room', from the ground up. I was never so pleased. Don't have the room any more, it went with the divorce. Have most of the equipment which I change from time to time. I never captured the sound of the 'room' again, but I still very much enjoy what I do have, including the almost 30,000 pieces of media that I have collected over the last fifty years. All the media will go to the local library when I pass so others can enjoy the music.
I used to search for the next best thing and was very pleased with the results. Now the changes yield smaller improvements, and the cost increases. I'm done improving the electronics. I'm concentrating on the music now.
this very subject came up the other day with an audiophile buddy of mine who just upgraded his preamp phono stage, then moved to a new MC cartridge, fussing & obsessing all weekend with the whole synergy thing & seemed quite aggravated with the whole process. I forsee an audiophile themed intervention on A&E in the works...you know, guy walks into his local dealer & his whole family is there etc, etc....
I wonder why I'm not sitting back and appreciating the system I currently own. Is it easier said than done?
Yes it is easier said than done. If you like me have made a considerable investment in your audio system and yet the music does not quite grip you emotionally where you feel what the artists were trying to convey. I'm still working on that level of music reproduction. Maybe my setup will be there soon. Those enjoying their systems are so fortunate. But you're right in what you say about family. I could definitely do better there.